Now that you no longer play an active part in the music industry, do you think there’ll ever be another band to capture the raw essence and spirit of The Sex Pistols? Would such a band be able to exist today and how would you suggest that they would go about revolutionising the face of modern music forever?
I am much more active than you think but that is another story. Today the world wide web counts for what is sexy, subversive and stylish in pop culture, and furthermore, what is interactive. Two of the most salient points in the punk aesthetic. The rest, you have to make yourself.
What do you look for in modern bands today and what advice would you give to up and coming acts with regards to management and the need to ensure that they live up to their potential?
They serve less purpose today. There are two words that sum up pop culture: “authenticity” and “karaoke”. Pop idol and pop tv programming generally serves the purpose today of introducing us all to a karaoke world. Pop Idol alone has replaced the moribund music industry. On the other hand, there is an enormous thirst for something authentic but that is like searching for a ruby in a field of tin. Although the easiest way to potentially find something authentic is to surf the net. Here in a more lawless and friendlier, therefore, environment, dwells the romantic and outlaw spirit of an alternative culture. I would look there and all of the diy wherever that may live.
Dave from a band called ‘White Man Kamikaze’ asked me to ask you as to what prompted you to manage The New York Dolls. A band that seemed to represent the complete antithesis of what The Sex Pistols ever stood for, and why do you think the results were so markedly different, with many people blaming you for the band’s subsequent decline and resultant break-up?
I liked that the NY Dolls were bad at everything and I wanted to repeat that idea back in the UK. I had a chance to do that with a few kids who hung out at my store. This was a way of being anticorporate and against the commodification of pop culture that was now seriously underway by the mid-seventies. The New York Dolls taught me something new. That what is cool is bad and what is good is boring. The result was The Sex Pistols and more than that, punk itself.
After Johnny Rotten’s departure from The Sex Pistols, you once considered Sid Vicious as a suitable replacement, stating that “Sid Vicious could actually sing, and he was potentially a much bigger star” (The Guardian 21/03/04). Can you please tell us as to why you thought this and what star qualities do you think make a good front-man for a band?
Sid Vicious was less self-conscious and wasn’t frightened to fail. He only saw a green light, never red – the fundamentals required to be a bad front man.
You recently gave a speech in New York during which you predicted the death of the record label by stating that “no one cares about selling units any more. All record labels will end up closing eventually because no one wants actual CDs anymore. You can get whatever you want on the internet for nothing now”. How do you think these events will affect recording artists, and what tips would you give the record label industry to ensure that they are able to offset these trends and ensure that quality music still gets heard?
The recording industry more than likely in the future will be owned by the artists themselves. As an industry, it is no longer needed, in what has become a virtual world of recorded music.
What advancements do you see in “Chip Music” and the “punk” sounds of tomorrow, and how do you intend to revolutionise the state of Videogames on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Punk? Finally, what advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs and how would you challenge the status quo as a means of ensuring radical industrial change for tomorrow?
I am in the throes of setting up a major exhibit at MoMA New York on the impact and history of videogame culture and the art within it. The only advice I can give any budding entrepreneur is to believe in making magnificent failures rather than benign successes.